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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Academic Staff  /  James Kneale

Dr. James Kneale

Room 107
Department of Geography
26 Bedford Way

Phone: +44 (0) 20 7679 5535
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7679 7565

Book ASF or personal tutor meetings here (Term 1: IRL Mondays and Tuesdays, online Thursdays)



I graduated from the Department of Geography, University College London in 1990. I then worked as a Research Assistant in the Department for a year before beginning my PhD, supervised by Jacquie Burgess. In 1994 I moved to Bristol to work as a Temporary Lecturer in the Department of Geography while writing up my PhD, which was awarded in 1995. In the autumn of that year I moved to Exeter to work as a Tutor, becoming a Lecturer there until September 2000, when I returned to UCL.

Since then I've been Admissions Tutor, Chair of the Undergraduate Exam Board, Anthropology and Geography Joint Degree Tutor, Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator, and Third Year Tutor (Deputy Undergraduate Tutor).

Kneale, J. (2023) ‘Re-mapping H.P. Lovecraft: Geographies of the Weird and Absent’, Literary Geographies 9 (1)

Kneale, J. (2022) ‘Expanding intoxication: what can drinking places (c.1850-1950) tell us about other intoxicants and other sites?’ in Hunt, G., Antin, T., and Frank, V. A. (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Intoxicants and Intoxication, London and New York: Routledge, 159-77.

Kneale, J. (2021) ‘Consumption’, in Toner, D. (ed.) Alcohol in the Age of Industry, Empire and War, London: Bloomsbury, 43-64.

Kneale, J. (2021). 'Good, homely, troublesome or improving? Historical geographies of drinking places, c. 1850–1950.' Geography Compass 15 (3) e12557.

Randalls, S. and Kneale, J. (2020) ‘A fragile network: effecting hail insurance in Britain, 1840-1900’, Enterprise and Society, 22 (3), 739–769.

Kneale, J. and Randalls, J. (2020) ‘Making climate risks work: Governmentality and ‘foreign residence’ in British life assurance, 1840-1940’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 45 (4), 833-848.

Kneale, J. and Randalls, S. (2020). 'Imagined geographies of climate and race in Anglophone life assurance, c.1840-1930.' In Mahony, M., Randalls, S. (Eds.), Weather, climate and the geographical imagination: Placing atmospheric knowledges. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Kneale, J. (2019) ‘“Indifference would be such a relief”: Race and Weird Geography in LaValle and Ruff’s Responses to Lovecraft,’ in Greve, Julius and Zappe, Florian (eds.) Spaces and Fictions of the Weird and the Fantastic: Ecologies, Geographies, Oddities, Palgrave Macmillan, 93-109.

Kneale, J. (2018). ‘The Battle of Torquay: The Late Victorian Resort as Social Experiment.’ In M. Ingleby, M. Kerr (Eds.), Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century. Edinburgh University Press.

Kneale, J. (2018). ‘“These Are the Cases Who Call Themselves ‘Moderate Drinkers,’ Because They Are Never Seen Embracing a Lamp-Post”: The Problem of Moderate Drinking in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Britain.’ In M. Ingleby, S. Randalls (Eds.), Just Enough. The History, Culture and Politics of Sufficiency. Palgrave Macmillan.

      Kneale, J. (2017) ‘Islands: Literary Geographies of Isolation and Transformation’, in Tally, Robert, Routledge Handbook of Literature and Space, London & New York: Routledge, 204-213.

      Kneale, J. (2016) ‘“Ghoulish Dialogues”: H. P. Lovecraft’s Weird Geographies’, in Sederholm, C. H. and Weinstock, J. (eds.) The Age of Lovecraft, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 43-61.

      Kneale, J. (2015) ‘Commentary on Lovatt et al (2015): Lay and standard epidemiology - rival approaches or the beginnings of a dialogue?’, Addiction, 110, 12, 1920–1921.

      French, S. and Kneale, J. (2015) ‘Insuring Biofinance: Alcohol, Risk and the Limits of Life’, Economic Sociology - The European Electronic Newsletter, Vol. 17, No 1, November 2015 available here

      Kneale, J. and French, S. (2015), ‘Moderate drinking before the unit: Medicine and life assurance in Britain and the US c.1860–1930’, Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, Vol. 22, No. 2: 111–117.

      Nicholls, J., and Kneale, J. (2015). Alcohol problems and policies: Historical and contemporary perspectives. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, Vol 22, No. 2, 93-95.

        Kneale, J. (2015) ‘Anstie, Francis’; ‘Carnival’; ‘Mathew, Father Theobald’; ‘Pub Crawls’; ‘Rechabite Friendly Society’; ‘Victorian England and Alcohol’ in Martin, Scott C.  (ed.) Alcohol: Social, Cultural, and Historical Perspectives (Sage).

        Kneale, J. and Randalls, S. (2014) ‘Invisible atmospheric knowledges in British insurance companies, 1830-1914’ History of Meteorology 6, 35-52, available here.

          Boniface, S., Kneale, J. and Shelton, N. (2014) 'Drinking pattern is more strongly associated with under-reporting of alcoholconsumption than socio-demographic factors: evidence from a mixed-methods study,' BMC Public Health 14: 1297 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1297

          Kneale, J. (2014) ‘Accidental Impact’, for special issue of ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies on ‘Social and Cultural Geographies of Impact’, Volume 13, issue 1, 2014, pp43-46, available here.

          Kneale, J. and French, S. (2013) ‘“The Relations of Inebriety to Insurance”: geographies of medicine, insurance and alcohol in Britain, 1840-1911’, in Herring, Regan, Weinberg, and Withington (eds.), Intoxication: Problematic Pleasures (Palgrave Macmillan), 87-109.

          Kneale, J. (2013) ‘I have never been to Nasqueron: A geographer reads Iain M. Banks’, in Colebrook, M. and Cox, K. (eds.) The Transgressive Iain Banks: Essays on a Writer Beyond Borders (McFarland).

          Boniface, S., Kneale, J. and Shelton, N. (2013), ‘Actual and Perceived Units of Alcohol in a Self-Defined “Usual Glass” of Alcoholic Drinks in England’. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Jun 37(6): 978-83.

          Kneale, J. (2012) ‘Surveying Pubs, Cities and Unfit Lives: Governmentality, drink and space in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain’, Journal for the Study of British Cultures, 19 (1), 45-60.

          French, S. and Kneale, J. (2012) ‘Speculating on Careless Lives: Annuitising the biofinancial subject’, Journal of Cultural Economy, 5 (4), 391-406.

          Kneale, J. (2011) ‘Plots: space, conspiracy and contingency in William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and Spook Country’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29 (1) 169 – 186.

          McShane, A. and Kneale, J. (2011), ‘Histories and geographies of intoxicants and intoxication: an introduction’, The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, 25 (1-2), 6-14, in a special double issue of the journal edited by the authors.

          Kneale, J. (2011) ‘Pubs and Wine Bars’, in Southerton, D., Crane, D., Ekstrom, K., Jackson, P., Trentmann, F., Warde, A., Wilk, R. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture, (CQ Press).

          Kneale, J. (2010) ‘Counterfactualism, Utopia, and Historical Geography: Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt’, Journal of Historical Geography 36 (3), 297-304.

          Kneale, J. (2010) ‘Monstrous and haunted media: H. P. Lovecraft and early twentieth-century communications technology’, Historical Geography 38 90-106.

          Kneale, J. (2010) Consumption Controversies: Alcohol Policies in the UK, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Policy Briefing Paper 3, contributor.

          Kneale, J. (2010) ‘Nightlife’ in Hutchison, Ray, Aalbers, M., Beauregard, R., and Crang, M. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Urban Studies (Sage), 561-66.

          French, S. and Kneale, J. (2009) ‘Excessive Financialisation: Insuring Lifestyles and Everyday Geographies of Social Excess’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 27 (6), 1030-1053.

          Holloway, J. and Kneale, J. (2009) ‘Philosophy: Dialogism (After Bakhtin)’, in Kitchin, R. and Thrift, N. (eds.) The International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Elsevier).

          Kneale, J. (2009) ‘Space’, in Bould, M. and Vint, S. (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (Routledge), 423-32.

          Kneale, J. and French, S. (2008) ‘Mapping alcohol: Health, policy and the geographies of problem drinking in Britain’, Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy 15 (3), 233–249

          Holloway, J. and Kneale, J. (2008) ‘Locating haunting: a ghost-hunter's guide’, Cultural Geographies 15 (3), 297–312.

          Kneale, J. (2006) ‘From beyond: H. P. Lovecraft and the place of horror’, Cultural Geographies 13, 106-206.

          Kneale, J (2004) ‘Leisure, visual culture and the ‘spatial turn’’, in Aitchison and Pussard (eds.) Leisure, Space and Visual Culture: Practices and Meanings (LSA Publication No. 84), 5-8.

          Kneale, J and Dwyer, C (2004) ‘Consumption’, in Duncan, Johnson, and Schein, (eds.) A Companion to Cultural Geography (Blackwell), 298-315.

          Kneale, J (2003) ‘Secondary Worlds: Reading novels as geographical research’ for Blunt, Gruffud, May, Ogborn and Pinder (eds.) Cultural Geography in Practice (Arnold), 37-51.

          Kitchin, R. and Kneale, J. (eds.), (2002). Lost in Space: Geographies of Science Fiction (Continuum), including Kneale, J and Kitchin, R (2002) ‘Lost in Space’, 1-16.

          Kneale, J. (2002) ‘Modernity, pleasure and the metropolis’, Journal of Urban History 28, 647-57.

          Kneale, J. (2001) ‘The Place of Drink: Temperance and the public, 1856-1914’, Social and Cultural Geography 2, 43-59.

          Kitchin, R. and Kneale, J. (2001), ‘Science Fiction or Future Fact? Exploring imaginative geographies of the new millennium’, Progress in Human Geography 25, 19-35.

          Kneale, J (2001) ‘Working with groups’, in Limb and Dwyer, (eds.), Qualitative Methodologies for Geographers (Arnold), 136-50.

          Holloway, J and Kneale, J (2000) ‘Mikhail Bakhtin: Dialogics of space’, in Crang and Thrift (eds.), Thinking Space (Routledge), 71-88.

          Kneale, J. (1999) ‘“A Problem of Supervision”: moral geographies of the nineteenth century British public house’, Journal of Historical Geography 25, 333-48.

          Kneale, J (1999) ‘The virtual realities of technology and fiction: reading William Gibson’s cyberspace’, in Crang, Crang, and May (eds.), Virtual Geographies: bodies, spaces and relations (Routledge), 205-21.

          Kneale, J (1999), ‘The media’, in Cloke, Crang, and Goodwin (eds.), Introducing Human Geographies (Arnold), 316-23 [second edition (2005), 547-58].

          Kneale, J (1996) ‘Impossible geographies’, in Littlewood and Stockwell, (eds.) Impossibility Fiction (Rodopi), 147-62.

          My research interests are in cultural and historical geography, particularly these two areas:

          The first concerns historical and contemporary geographies of drink and temperance. I have published on nineteenth- and twentieth-century constructions of drink as a spatial problem, and on the parallels between historical and contemporary policy, popular and medical discussions of binge-drinking. Recently my interests have turned to temperance insurance, and through that to climate/weather insurance (writing with Sam Randalls). I was one of the organizers of 'Under Control?', the Alcohol and Drugs History Society Conference, in June 2013; a member of the ESRC's network on Intoxicants and Intoxication in Cultural and Historical Perspective; and a member of the Warwick Drinking Studies Network.

            I was a co-investigator on the ‘Insuring healthcare in a digital world’ project funded by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award within the Society And Ethics programme (£34,068, 2015-16), with Liz McFall (OU, PI), and CIs Shaun French (Nottingham) and Zsuzsanna Vargha (Leicester).

              The second area concerns literary geographies and representations of space, particularly in non-realist genres (science fiction, horror, ghost stories, utopias, etc). In 2002 I edited a collection on geographies of science fiction with Rob Kitchin and I have written about William Gibson, H. P. Lovecraft, Iain M. Banks, Kim Stanley Robinson, and other writers. I developed some of this work through visits to the University of Tokyo in 2005 and 2007 as a visiting researcher. The first trip was funded by a ¥12 million (~£61,000) grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education for a four-year project on ‘Utopia', working with Professors Tanji, Tanji, Yaguchi, Miyamoto Alvey, Tsuchida, and Hones at the Universities of Tokyo, Yokohama Kokuritsu and Hokkaido.

              I am a co-editor of the Journal of Victorian Culture; I helped edit Social History of Alcohol & Drugs for a while; and I'm a member of the Literary Geographies advisory board.

              I'm currently Dissertation Prize Coordinator for the Historical Geography Research Group of the RGS-IBG. I was Secretary of the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group of the RGS-IBG from 2003-2006, and a Committee member from 1999-2003. I was also a Committee Member of the Royal Statistical Society's History of Statistics Study Group.

              I contributed written and verbal evidence on histories and geographies of drinking to the Parliamentary Health Select Committee in 2009. The Committee used a good deal of this material in its First Report, January 2010.

              Media: I've contributed to stories on drinking  on TV (BBC Breakfast News) and radio programmes ('In Our Time' and ‘The Long View’, Radio 4; ‘Night Waves’, Radio 3;  BBC local radio), and in print (the Times - £, Time Out, etc). Recently I was consulted by the Morning Advertiser about parallels between coronavirus and the 1918 Influenza pandemic in terms of their effect on UK pubs.

              In October 2017 I helped the Museum of London Archaeological Service work on two time capsules recovered after the demolition of the National Temperance Hospital, which resulted in an appearance alongside Dan Cruikshank on BBC1's Inside Out London, and which was reported in the Times. This followed my contribution to an earlier BBC News Magazine film on the Hospital.

              I have also established a relationship with food artists/architects Bompas & Parr, having helped provide material for their ‘Alcoholic Architecture’ (a walk-in gin & tonic) and ‘Architectural Punchbowl’ projects. Times Online interviewed me about the former when it launched in April 2009.

              Various publics have encountered my work in other ways. I've made three Bright Club appearances, including one at Kew Gardens, and one History Showoff, as well as a meeting of the Over-Analyser’s Book Club.

              I've given a UCL Lunchtime Lecture, ‘Those that don't drink, don't die so fast’ (27 Nov 2012),  on temperance and insurance, which can be seen here; been part of a day of public talks held to coincide with the British Library’s exhibition on science fiction, Out of This World; participated in a Café Culture discussion with author Toby Litt and others from UCL SELCS (2015); taken part in a panel quiz at the Grant Museum of Zoology (2014); given a public talk at the Petrie Museum (2014); helped a team from CASA create 'paintings with light' with a pixelstick at the Temperance Hospital, in Walthamstow, and in Somers Town (2016-18); and given a Supper Talk at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

              Finally, the collection Lost In Space is listed in the Science Fiction Studies journal’s Chronological Bibliography of Science Fiction Criticism, “critical materials on SF that the editors of SFS deem to be important, influential, or historically noteworthy”.



              UNDERGRADUATE MODULES 2021-22

            • GEOG0014 Geography in the Field 2
            • GEOG0150 Space and Society
            • GEOG0151 Thinking Geographically I
            • GEOG0029 Cultural And Historical Geography
            • GEOG0032 Human Geography Field Class
            • GEOG0059 Geography, Culture and Materiality


              Internet Links

              DRINK STUDIES

              'Under Control?', the Alcohol and Drugs History Society Conference, June 2013

              Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal

              The Drinking Studies Network, including the Drinking Places cluster

              Intoxicants and Intoxication in Cultural and Historical Perspective


              literary geographies online bibliography

              Literary Geographies journal


              Good starting points:

              Connected Histories - includes the following resources and many more: The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913, British History Online, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, London Lives (1690-1800), C19th Newspaper.

              National Register of Archives

              The Victorian Web

              The Victorian Literary Studies Archive

              British Newspapers:

              Go to C19th Newspapers and then click on ‘Change Database’ at the top of the page; then click ‘Newsvault’, the fourth option down, to search C18th-C19th Newspapers and Periodicals, Illustrated London News Historical Archive, Times Digital Archive, Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive and more.

              ProQuest Historical Newspapers (from inside UCL) - a different set of papers, periodicals etc - UK and otherwise

              Maps and Places:

              Digimap - then select Historic Digimap, then Ancient Roam for historical maps

              Historical Directories

              London Metropolitan Archives

              City of Westminster Archives

              Charles Booth Online Archive

              Charles Booth’s Descriptive Map of London Poverty (1889)

              Greenwood's Map of London (1827)

              Map of John Snow's London, 1859

              Monuments and Dust: the culture of Victorian London. Includes versions of London: A Pilgrimage, Doré and Jerrold (1872) and Mayhew's London Labour And The London Poor, Vol. 1 (1861).

              The Dictionary of Victorian London

              London Transport Museum Photographic Collection

              The Collage Image Database (City of London)

              UCL Archives

              CURRENT STUDENTS

                  • Silvia Binenti (f/t, AHRC LAHP). Co-supervisor with Prof. Jason Dittmer.
                  • Chan Du (f/t). Co-supervisor with Prof. Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, CMII, UCL.
                  • Thomas Kelly: ‘“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”: The Psychological Effects of Vertical Architectural Spaces in Utopian and Dystopian Science Fiction’ (f/t, English, KCL; Goodenough College Studentship). Starting 2018. Co-supervisor with Dr Jon Day, English, KCL.
                  • Lyu Guangzhao, ‘Postcolonialism in Contemporary Chinese and Anglo-American Science Fiction: a Comparative Study’ (f/t). First supervisor with Dr Xiaoning Lu, East Asian Languages & Cultures, SOAS.



                      • Joe Thorogood, 'Geopolitics, Assemblage and the War on Drugs: Changing Dynamics of Opioid Consumption', (f/t, ESRC 1+3 award), second supervisor with Dr Jason Dittmer, 2015-present.
                        • Ruth Mason, 'Methodism as Designed Space? (1851 - 1932)' (f/t, Wolfson Scholarship). 2013-present.
                          • Charlotte Jones, ‘A Social History of Turkish Baths in Victorian London’ (f/t, ESRC 1+3 award). Supervised jointly with Professor Richard Dennis, 2008-2017.